‘BPM 1 3-13’—have they finally found a true feathered dinosaur?

by Dr Jonathan Sarfati

9 March, 2002

For the umpteenth time, a new ‘feathered dinosaur’ has allegedly been found. The discoverers, Dr Mark Norell and some Chinese scientists, called this new Chinese specimen ‘BPM 1 3-13’, after the Beipiao Paleontological Museum in Liaoning Province in China, and published the news in Nature 416(6876):36–37, 7 March 2002.

Our preliminary advice would be little different from our preliminary reports on some other alleged ‘feathered dinosaur’ finds. [Update 28 March 2002: upon examining the original paper (which can often be very different from the media headlines), it is actually only a page long, and said nothing that invalidates this advice]. For example, The ‘Feathered Dinosaur’ Find—a brief preliminary report and Yet another new ‘feathered’ dinosaur?. Many of the same things are apparent with BPM as with many of the other now-discredited claims, e.g.:

  • This specimen is ‘dated’ (by evolutionary/uniformitarian methods) as >20 million years younger than Archaeopteryx, a true bird with flight feathers and an avian lung system. Therefore this can provide no proof that birds evolved from such creatures in the first place.

  • Dr Storrs Olson, Curator of Birds at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, has previously been scathing about overzealous bird-dino claims in both Nature and National Geographic (see Which came first—the dino or the bird?). Similarly, he says he cannot discern feathers or feathery structures in this latest discovery, and advises caution against the possibilities that the feathers come from a different source—see Scientists Uncover Chinese Dinosaur. This caution is reasonable—he was one of the first to smell a rat about the Archaeoraptor fraud—see Archaeoraptor—Phony ‘feathered’ fossil. Another prominent sceptic of the dino-to-bird dogma, Dr Larry Martin of the University of Kansas, also warns about the possibility of a fake (New Scientist 6 March).

  • We have previously pointed out that feathers on a dinosaur are not ruled out by creationist theory, and would not prove that dinosaurs could overcome the huge hurdles of actually evolving into a bird. Similarly, there’s no creationist reason why the pterodactyls shouldn’t have a fur-like covering—yet no evolutionist believes that pterodactyls evolved into mammals.

Published: 3 February 2006